November 06, 2017 Articles

Deponents Behaving Badly: Should Their Lawyers Be Sanctioned Too?

The Rules of Civil Procedure give courts the power to sanction bad conduct by a deponent. But under certain circumstances, the deponent’s attorney could also be on the hook.

By Alexandra L. Sobol

Parties entrenched in litigation are often driven by their emotions. They may lose sight of the merits of their case and instead battle with their adversaries solely for the sake of the fight. This mind-set may lead to boorish (and therefore sanctionable) behavior. Party misconduct most frequently arises during discovery, as this phase may provide litigants with the first opportunity to be heard, both literally and figuratively. At a deposition, witnesses may be purposefully evasive or even hostile, forgetting that the deposition room mirrors a courtroom.

This behavior requires counsel for the witness to get control of his or her client. Some lawyers, however, will sit idly by or, worse, encourage the client’s misconduct. An attorney’s failure to curb a client’s unruly behavior can, and should, lead to the imposition of sanctions for all those involved.

Premium Content For:
  • Litigation Section
Join - Now